The Age, June 21, 2006
A $650 million pulp mill has been put on hold because of plans to cut down six potential nesting trees for an endangered cockatoo.
Yesterday the federal Department of Environment and Heritage wrote to the developers of the Penola Pulp Mill in South Australia, just over the Victorian border, demanding more evidence that their plans would not affect the south-eastern red-tailed black cockatoo.
The mill's project director, John Roche, said he was surprised by the intervention, and concerned that the pulp mill might go the way of a Gippsland wind farm, recently vetoed by Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell because of a one-in-1000-year risk of it killing an endangered orange-bellied parrot.
"To build the mill we have to knock over six red gums that could be used as nesting habitat for the birds, but up until today we thought that decision would be made by the local council," Mr Roche said.
"Now that decision is with the Federal Government, obviously people are a little bit anxious after what happened with the wind farm in Victoria recently."
Better known to Victorians as Commonwealth Games mascot Karak, there are only about 1000 remaining south-eastern red-tailed black cockatoos, which are found only in western Victoria and parts of South Australia.
The greatest threat to their survival is the destruction of their nesting trees and food sources. A final decision on the mill is likely to take between three months and a year.